A 200 year old classic through the perspective of the females
Mozart is one of my favorite composers. But with Don Giovanni I knew only a few arias and was not familiar with the entire storyline or production. I was excited to see that the Minnesota Opera was putting on this production that is over 200 years old for today's audience. Why is this story relevant today? This production and story touch upon many relevant topics such as relationships, betrayal, gender, and feminine politics that still resonate today. Audience members may recall or relate to these characters or situations throughout the story.
Keturah Stickann is the stage director for this production of Don Giovanni. As a female, she did not want to strip the story, but rather tell it from the perspective of the females. The story is male-dominated, and Don Giovanni is the modern-day player, full of himself as he objectifies women. In this interpretation, through the lens of the women, they have more control. One of the most powerful staging moments was when the three women come together to throw Don Giovanni off his womanizer ways. Donna Anna is joined by Zerlina and Donna Elvira to push Don Giovanni to his death.
The impact that this production will have on anyone who sees it is that women are not the weaker sex as may have been perceived back then. They can take total control, and as the director mentions, it shows how far we have evolved as a society with gender identity and politics. I think that is especially important for today's audience. It will make them think about gender ideologies and the politics behind them. It will open dialogue and effect change. For these reasons, audiences need to see this production of Don Giovanni.
Liliana Duque Pineiro designed the set for this production. It features a simple architectural design with pillars and a rotating stairwell that transitions between different scenes such as the bedroom, street, field, party, and courtyard. Minimal additional props (a bed, flower cart, etc.) were used, and a chandelier dropped from the ceiling during the party scene. Mary Shabatura is the lighting designer, and the lighting adds additional layers and effects to this production during intimate, death, and ensemble scenes.
In this story and production, there are many intimate moments. Some of these moments may be triggering for attendees. A warning is given, and attendees may choose to enter the theater after that scene at the beginning. Doug Scholz-Carlson is the intimacy director who worked with the actors for these scenes.
The costumes, beautifully crafted and designed by Sarah Bahr, are inspired by the 1930s. For some characters, the costumes are simple, sleek, and modern, while for Don Giovanni, they are dark and fitting. Donna Anna, Zerlina, and Donna Elvira's costumes are bold, feminine, and stylish. The ensemble wears costumes that are colorful with patterns that fit the 1930s style, creating a striking visual on stage during the large production numbers.
The music, conducted by Karen Kamensek, is wonderful. Seth Carico, as Don Giovanni, possesses a rich, full voice and stage presence that suits the role well. Symone Harccum (Donna Anna) and Efrain Corralejo (Don Ottavio) deliver beautiful solos and duets together. Leah Brzyski (Zerlina) and Charles H. Eaton (Masetto) exhibit great chemistry and provide many comedic moments throughout the production. Sara Gartland (Donna Elvira) sings beautiful and powerful arias, captivating the audience with her dominant and striking presence.
I highly recommend seeing this wonderful production of Don Giovanni at the Minnesota Opera. It is a stunning interpretation with many dark and captivating elements, offering a fresh perspective. The audience will undoubtedly enjoy this production. It is recommended for audiences ages 14+ due to the content.
Photo credit - Cory Weaver.